Ellen & Michael Kullman and Family Give $1 Million To Native Vision American Indian Youth Initiative

Gift to support outreach to more than 10,000 youth and families across the country

Youth Development

Gift to support outreach to more than 10,000 youth and families across the country

Ellen and Michael Kullman and family will give $1 million to support NativeVision, one of the country’s largest health and fitness initiatives for Native American youth. Over the next five years, the gift is expected to reach over 10,000 children representing dozens of tribes.

NativeVision is a unique sports and life skills initiative that has served more than 40,000 Native youth since it was launched in 1996 by the NFL Players Association, the Nick Lowery Foundation, and the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. The program reaches nearly 1,500 Native American children annually through an intensive summer camp and after-school programs in three tribal communities. Children from more than 40 tribes in over 15 states have participated, from the Seminole in Florida to the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico to the Metlakatla in Alaska.

The gift will give more Native youth around the country immediate access to NativeVision’s popular sports-centered youth development programming, and help build partnerships for greater scalability.

“We were inspired to give because we saw the tremendous impact the program has had on children firsthand,” says Michael Kullman, who has Native American ancestry. Michael and Ellen Kullman’s children share their commitment. Their twin sons Stephen and David volunteered at the NativeVision summer camps during their high school years, and raised more than $10,000 for NativeVision by collecting pledges for goals scored by their high school lacrosse team. Their older sister Maggie has also volunteered with the program.

“We have seen how NativeVision has transformed children’s lives. It’s our honor to help this program grow to reach even more Native youth,” says Ellen Kullman, who is Chair and CEO of the DuPont Company, in Wilmington, DE.

[Girls on a volley ball court.] Native American young people have the poorest health, socioeconomic and educational status of any racial or ethnic group in the country, including suicide rates two-to-three times the national average, obesity and diabetes rates three times the national average and high school dropout rates up to 50 percent higher.

“Before NativeVision, I never heard anyone tell me that they believed in me to get this far in high school,” says Rodney Dazen, a 17-year old NativeVision participant from the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona. Today, Rodney credits NativeVision not only with motivating him to finish high school, but saving him from thoughts of suicide.

NativeVision engages professional and top collegiate athletes (in lacrosse, football, soccer, volleyball, basketball and track) as volunteer mentors to promote healthy lifestyles, fitness and the pursuit of education, using sports as a hook. At the free summer camp hosted on reservations, the athlete-mentors conduct sports clinics interspersed with breakout sessions that promote self-esteem, discipline, healthy living habits and staying in school. These lessons are expanded in after-school programs with elementary through high school youth that NativeVision now runs within White Mountain Apache, Navajo and Santo Domingo Pueblo tribal communities. The Kullman family gift will support larger NativeVision summer camps, strengthen existing after-school programming and help Johns Hopkins launch three new after-school programs with new tribal partners. 

“On top of their years of volunteerism and past support, the Kullman family gift is an extraordinary commitment to NativeVision and the Native children we serve,” says NativeVision co-founder Allison Barlow, PhD, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health and an assistant scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Quite simply, they have just given thousands more Native children vision and hope for happy, healthy futures.”

The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health has worked in partnership with tribal communities for over three decades to promote health across the lifespan. NativeVision is one of the Center’s flagship programs that focus on building strength, resiliency and optimism to help youth persevere through life’s challenges.


The Center for American Indian Health was founded in 1991 at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with the mission to raise the health status, self-sufficiency and health leadership of Native peoples to the highest possible level. With 10 field offices in tribal communities across the Southwest, the Center’s administrative offices are in Baltimore and Albuquerque.  Working in partnership with tribes, the Center has achieved landmark public health breakthroughs to prevent pediatric diseases that are now credited with saving millions of children’s lives worldwide. The Center’s current work focuses on the critical needs of Native communities today, including obesity, diabetes, suicide, depression, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and promotion of higher education. More than 40 tribal communities around the country have adopted the Center’s evidence-based programs and dozens of Native health workers have received graduate and doctoral education at Johns Hopkins through its public health scholarship program. To learn more, visit jhsph.edu/caih.

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